Thu, Sep 20, 11:23am by Staff Writer
The West Coast Eagles host Melbourne on Saturday afternoon for a spot in the 2018 AFL Grand Final.
The Eagles are $1.80 favourites for the match, while the Demons are $2.05 outsiders.
It was been a meteoric rise for both clubs this season, with the Eagles finishing the home and away season in second spot.
They defeated Collingwood by 16 points in a tense qualifying final a fortnight ago and after trailing at three-quarter time, booted five goals to one in the final term to win by 16 points.
The Demons defeated a pair of finals stalwarts on their way to an unlikely preliminary final.
The club had not played finals for 12 seasons and this is their deepest run in September since they made the 2000 AFL Grand Final.
Melbourne toppled Geelong by 29 points and Hawthorn by 33 points in impressive performances that started with midfield domination.
One criticism of Melbourne has been its efficiency going forward, particularly against Geelong where they spurned numerous guilt-edged goal scoring chances.
Melbourne is the highest scoring side in the competition averaging more than 15 goals per game. The Eagles are tied for third with 13.3 goals per game.
The Demons strengths in the midfield have began with their improved tackle pressure. They are the best tackling side in the competition. This is in contrast to the Eagles who rank 15th in this category.
In round 22 Melbourne secured its finals berth with a 17-point win at Optus Stadium against the Eagles.
On that afternoon Angus Brayshaw had 26 disposals and eight clearances, while Jake Melksham kicked four goals for the visitors.
The home side was without its two most potent forwards in Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling, with the latter concussed 10 minutes into the game.
The Eagles side will feature both players this weekend, but they will be without the suspended Andrew Gaff, otherwise the team is as it has been all season.
West Coast is a 2.5-point favourite in the handicap market in what is the closest pre-match market of the 2018 AFL Finals series.
In margin betting, the Eagles to win by 1-39 is priced at $2.40, with a Demons win by a 1-39 margin paying $2.63.
The total match points is set at over/under 171.5 at $1.90 and unless both sides shy away from their attacking style of football, there is a good chance this game goes over.
The Western Bulldogs and Richmond both played their best football at the pointy end and came away with the premiership in the past two seasons.
Melbourne is following a similar trend and has all the momentum ahead of this preliminary final.
The Eagles are playing at home and have had a week off, but the Demons forward line has been potent and if they can kick accurately, they’ll find themselves in the Grand Final.
Best bet- Melbourne Big Win Little Win 1-39 at $2.63
AFL Preliminary Final Odds
West Coast $1.80 Melbourne $2.05
Handicap: West Coast -2.5 ($1.92)
Margin: West Coat 1-39 $2.40, 40+ $6.50
Melbourne 1-39 $2.63, 40+ $8
Total match points over/under 171.5 at $1.90
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